Wind energy powers Negros village as Greenpeace pushes Renewables Revolution

Feature story - August 5, 2002
Greenpeace today installed wind turbines in a Philippine village which had no electricity, to illustrate to the national government that local communities of Negros Occidental are serious in their desire to harness clean energy alternatives in the province. Negros is currently embroiled in an intense energy debate between a coal-fired power station proposed in Pulupandan town and utilizing the province's vast renewable energy alternatives.

"We chose the village of Sojoton Point for this wind turbine installation because it has been mapped as having a minimum 180-MW in wind-power potential, enough to power the future energy needs of Negros," said Athena Ballesteros, Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigns director, and a resident of the province of Negros. "People here want electricity, but they don't want dirty coal technology. The people of Negros are pushing for 100% renewable, clean energy. Greenpeace has installed the turbines not only to show that wind power works but more importantly to catalyze investments in the province in clean, renewable energy."

A team from the Greenpeace ship the MV Arctic Sunrise today installed three 400-watt wind turbines in the village of Sojoton Point, Cauayan. The turbines will supply power for the lighting needs of about 20 houses. The installation is part of the Philippine leg of the Southeast Asia-wide Choose Positive Energy tour, which intends to promote the viability of renewable energy especially in meeting local community needs.

Cauayan Mayor Jerry Tabujara praised Greenpeace for supporting the local community's campaign for 100% renewable energy for Negros. "Clean energy is what the province needs right now. Cauayan wants clean energy investments to further bring development and progress to our town," said Mayor Tabujara. "This confirms the alternative energy potential of Cauayan. I hope our clean energy partnership will go a long way towards the realization of our town's mission and goals."

"The village of Sojoton Point is a classic example of how wind can provide clean, sustainable power on -site without expensive main grid connection and without greenhouse gas pollution," said Ballesteros. According to Greenpeace, wind energy has a massive potential in the Philippines. Wind power alone could provide seven times the current electricity demand in the country.

According to Laetitia DeMarez of Greenpeace France, "wind power only needs the right sort of investment. Instead of dumping dirty coal technology that the local people do not want, foreign companies such as the UK-French fossil corporation Alstom could be driving the renewable energy revolution here in the Philippines." Alstom currently supplies the equipment that produces 20% of the world's energy.

Alstom is one of the investors in the proposed Pulupandan coal-fired power station in Negros. The company refuses to withdraw from the project, despite the fact that the developers have lost majority of their funding, and that several required government permits have either been cancelled or frozen. "Because the pollution that Alstom will create is global, so will our opposition to Alstom's dirty coal plant be international. The protests here in Bacolod will be joined by Greenpeace France as well as Greenpeace Southeast Asia and we will make sure that the investment that Alstom seeks to put in the proposed Pulupandan coal plant suffers," said DeMarez.

The Arctic Sunrise arrived last August 3 in the port of Bacolod to launch the 'Negros: Go Renewable' campaign. Yesterday, Greenpeace activists installed solar panels in a school in the town of Pulupandan where a coal plant is being proposed. The installed solar powered system will provide for 100% of the energy needs of the school's new library. The ship will leave Negros on August 7 to visit Thailand on the next phase of the CPE Tour of Southeast Asia, where many communities are rejecting the dirty energy technology of coal-fired power stations, and demanding clean renewable energy to fill the growing demand.

The Greenpeace flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, is presently campaigning in the North Sea against nuclear and fossil fuel energy on the northern leg of the Choose Positive Energy Tour.

The Choose Positive Energy Tour is part of Greenpeace's countdown to the Earth Summit that will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa next month. Greenpeace is campaigning for governments to make a commitment at the Johannesburg Earth Summit, to provide clean and affordable renewable energy to the two billion people around the world who currently live without decent energy services. Greenpeace is likewise asking OECD governments to immediately move 20 percent of their energy investments to renewable energy and at the same time, phase out financial support for all dirty energy sources within five years.